Crown appeals sentence on man who shot into Nunavut RCMP staff house
Court imposed four-year jail sentence on David Lyta, 23, of Kimmirut for 2012 shooting
The Crown is seeking an appeal to Justice Andrew Mahar’s decision to sentence a Kimmirut man to four years in prison in connection with his March 18, 2012 shooting into a staff house occupied by two RCMP members and their families.
That sentence should be doubled, Crown prosecutor Marian Bryant said Sept. 24 in the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.
David Lyta pleaded guilty in January 2013 to one count of intentionally discharging a firearm into a place, knowing another person is present in the place.
That carries a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison, which Mahar handed Lyta on Jan. 10, 2013.
But at the Nunavut Court of Appeal hearing held Sept. 24 in Iqaluit, Bryant told the appeal panel of judges, Justices Frans Slatter, Constance Hunt, and Clifton O’Brien, that the sentence “lacks proportion” and should be increased.
Bryant argued that even though Lyta had been drunk and suicidal on the night in question, he still had the presence of mind to fire 11 shots from a .22 rifle towards the house — seven of which entered the house.
None of the occupants inside the house were hurt or injured.
But the sentence “does not send a message of general deterrence,” Bryant said.
Bryant said the minimum four-year sentence would be the same if Lyta had shot into any common residential home, without their being RCMP members living in the home.
The issue of being a “best offender” — an offender that has a minimal criminal record — also played a part in sentencing, which should be reconsidered according to Bryant.
But defence lawyer James Morton said Lyta had been of good character, only had a slight criminal record, had a good relationship with the RCMP, and entered a guilty plea at court as soon as lawyers advised him to do so.
Morton mentioned that in Mahar’s decision, he also had to take into consideration Lyta’s Aboriginal ancestry into account.
In Mahar’s decision, he said all sentencing for Aboriginal offenders must consider the Supreme Court of Canada’s Gladue and Ipeelie decisions.
“A greater sentence should only be given in those cases where, after proper consideration of the principles of sentencing, a sentence beyond the statutory minimum would be necessary,” Mahar said in his Dec. 18, 2012 written sentence.
Morton also said that the decision is a “fit, proper, lawful sentence from an experience judge in Nunavut.”
Lyta appeared in court wearing standard prison-issued blue sweat pants and a blue sweatshirt, and rarely moved around in his chair.
The judges have reserved their decision until a later date.